It is an understatement to say the Coronavirus has caused a sea change in global economies, politics and behavior. MIDNITE HOUR continues to provide an ongoing record these historic changes as affects the Bangkok Nightlife Scene - so as to provide current information for those planning to travel to Thailand for tourism, and to provide a permanent running account of what was once, less than two years ago, the most vibrant Nightlife Scene on the planet.
Last month, Thailand had the first indications that the Coronavirus was receding. After a year of isolation from the outside world, optimism was at last creeping into official pronouncements and planning. The Government was proceeding with plans to increase tourism by various means. Their plan to open up Phuket Island to full tourism was revived and revised - and by 1 July this year (2021), vaccinated tourists entering Phuket would not have to be quarantined provided their (continued....)
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Patpong 1 Road - The Coronavirus 3rd Wave shut-down is total - the Entertainment"Dark Age" has arrived.
(continuing...) ...port of entry was Phuket. The authorities' plans included the proviso that tourists could not visit other parts of Thailand until they had been in Phuket for 10 days, while remaining free of the Coronavirus. This plan required that the local Thai commercial population would be able to be vaccinated by May 2021 - with newly arriving vaccines, and the soon-to-be locally-produced vaccine. The Minister of Public Health went so far as to state that the few cases of Coronavirus then showing up in Thailand would not be a problem, they could be handled easily by existing protocols. To continue with the government's best-laid-plans - the 'Golf Tour' plan was dusted off - where golfers from Korea and Japan would join tours to play golf at selected courses in Thailand - while residing at their assigned country club facilities. Then there was revived talk of reducing the quarantine period for incoming tourists from 14 days to 10 days.
But by the first week of April, all those ambitious plans for Thailand's controlled reopening were a pile of ashes - new infections of Coronavirus had quickly soared to over 300 new infections in a single day. Restrictions were starting to be re-implemented by the Government on places of entertainment and restaurants (to include the banning of alcoholic beverages). By 24 April the daily new infections had risen to 2839 - causing the BMA came out with a new, formal list of 31 restrictions, to be implemented within 48 hours. (See below for a verified translation:). By the end of the month, a further stipulation was issued - restaurants could only sell food as 'take-away'.
'Bangkok Metropolitan Authority'
Bangkok, 24 April 2021
Bangkok Orders Closure of 31 "classes of venues'' commencing 26 April 2021 for 14 days, or further notice.
1. Entertainment venues, including movie theaters, live performance theaters. (Example: Lakorn)
2. Water parks, Fun parks, both outside and inside malls / department stores.
4. Skating arenas. Include rollerblading and similar.
5. Snooker & billiard rooms.
6. Bowling alleys, game tables - consoles.
7. Game shops - Internet shops.
8. Public swimming pools and similar/ related activities.
9. Gyms, fitness studios.
10. Centers for exhibitions , showrooms, meeting halls.
12. Public Libraries.
13. Child nurseries. Except nurseries within hospitals.
14. Facilities for care of the aged. Open only where facilities are normally available to elderly for overnight stays.
15. Boxing stadiums and boxing schools.
16. Martial arts studios.
17. Parlors for tattoo and body piercing.
18. Dancing studios and dancing schools.
19. Horse racing venues.
20. Centers for display of Buddha amulets and areas for display of Buddha amulets.
21. 'Weight-watcher' diet clinics, beauty clinics and shops, and related beauty enhancement.
22. Health massage, traditional Thai massage, foot massage.
31. No parties, camping, filming of movies or television programs. Religious duties / family activities including elderly are limited to 20 family members.
Restaurants must follow (these) rules exactly, but may serve as normal inside until 21:00 hrs. From 21:00 - 23:00 hrs for take-home orders only. Seating must be 2 meters apart, or 1 meter when partitioned.
Must enforce the law requiring the wearing of 'surgical' or cloth masks in public areas.
As it tuns out, to make matters worse, the production of a locally-produced vaccine has been delayed yet again, with no announcement as to when it might be available. Further, the emergency imports from various sources have been delayed, now only just starting to be received in Thailand in the last days of the month of April - much too late to have any effect on the surge of new infections and deaths. We quite literally remain "all dressed up, no place to go".
IF YOU'RE PLANNING TO TRAVEL TO THAILAND
For those trying to navigate the multitude of changing regulations, we recommend the link below: Once at the website , scroll down a bit and click on “View Live Map”, and you can enter your home country (or where you are now), and the destination you're interested in. They give you all the latest information on infection rate/trend, and regulations on quarantine, testing, etc. If you give them your e-mail address, they will send you updates when there’s a change in your specific travel interest(s).
1. Thailand is currently in the middle of the 3rd Wave Coronavirus surge. Any plans to tour in Thailand should put on hold until the numbers of Coronavirus 'new cases' and 'deaths' are once again approaching zero. Check periodically, or daily at Worldometers.info.
2.Vaccination. Be prepared to show internationally recognized evidence of having been fully vaccinated.
3.Covid Test. Have a recent (within 72 hours) negative Covid-19 test (in addition to vaccination documentation).
4.Check periodically (up to time of travel) with Thailand Consulate in your home country for changing visa requirements, or any relevant travel restrictions (to include in particular quarantine policies, costs involved in quarantining, and any requirement for Covid insurance).
5.Check periodically with the airline of your choice to establish what their most current policies are regarding flights to Thailand.
6.Thailand no longer requires the "Fit To Fly" document - but your airline might, so you will need to double-check this item.
7.Insurance.. Many prospective visitors to Thailand must show evidence of insurance (dependent on Visa type). It is our understanding that this is 'Health Insurance', and not necessarily 'Life Insurance. Check before booking your flight.
8.Bring your own masks. Masks are available everywhere in Thailand, (and you will likely be wearing one on the aircraft), but you will be required to wear a mask while deplaning and going through Customs and Immigration. (Just a reminder).
One last consideration (Repeat from last issue) : There are Covid vaccines, and then there are Covid vaccines. One from Russia, two from China, one from India, and a few more from Europe and North America. As time goes on, we note a number of news items indicating some of the vaccines are possibly responsible for causing severe adverse reactions. If you are not planning to travel in the next 2 to 3 months, don't be stampeded into getting your vaccination early. A 2-injection series takes about a month, so it won't hurt to hold off on getting vaccinated until more is known about the possible side effects of the various vaccines.
READER : Sir,
Appearing on You Tube today :
"Netflix The Serpent - Real Locations Tour Bangkok".
Also shows a picture of Kanit House 77/5, Saladang.
MIDNITE HOUR: Thanks for the heads-up. We went to YouTube and watched the 16-and-a-half minute video clip "Netflix the Serpent – Real locations tour Patpong Bangkok - Kanit House"<link> ". We noted several repetitions and minor mistakes, both on the Sobraj-Chowdhury story - and Patpong itself. (We therefore cannot substantiate the content). Nevertheless, the video clip contains quite a bit of point-in-time (current) local footage. Those interested can click on the link above.
For a thumbnail of the actual history of Sobraj, Chowdhury and the 'Bikini Murders' (which took place mostly in Pattaya), click-and-go to our February issue<link>.
With the bars and massage parlors being closed, penning a column these last months must be boring work for an Entertainment blogger like yourself. ... ... At least last month several (Night Entertainment Venues) had reopened, so that was at least something. But now, with everything closed and no way to get to Bangkok, you must, to put it mildly, have a heck of a lot of free time on your hands.
Others have expressed those sentiments, however, as I have pointed out to them, Midnite Hour is an historical site, rather than a 'Night Entertainment Column'. It is certainly depressing to witness the economy collapsing and the bars closing (many never to reopen). However, from a purely historical perspective, nothing as significant as this has happened in the Bangkok entertainment world - ever.
We further note that the near total absence of Nitespot activity has in fact increased our workload - we still need to make our monthly physical surveys - and then (the hard part) try to account for everything in detail - for example, we continue to report on those Venues that have permanently closed, those that we know are planning to reopen, etc. Should this website, or its contents, make it to the future, researchers will find a detailed, chronological accounting of this current Entertainment "Dark Ages". As far as we have been able to determine, we have not come across any other publication - entertainment, news or other - that is providing a comprehensive, accumulative accounting of these times. Will these pages be all there is? The distant future holds the answer.
I think it's great that your historical record is being created in such an immediate way - should be fascinating to look back on later on. ... ... Do you have a theory as to why this big (Covid) surge in Thailand has occurred so long after the virus first started appearing?
While your question isn't exactly a FAQ, it has been asked a number of times. The on-the-ground consensus (as opposed to a mass-tracing and elaborate epidemiological investigation), is - in 2020, Thailand created an effective "bubble" (very good isolation from international contacts), giving us perhaps the best statistics in the region / world (barring some small island nations). That 'bubble', however, prohibited the development of herd immunity. (There are only 2 ways to obtain immunity - vaccine or 'herd').
However Thailand is essentially surrounded by nations without the necessary infrastructure or discipline to manage Covid. While Thailand's precautionary measures were very effective during 2020, we now see in hindsight that Burma had become a festering (and almost non-reported), unchecked source of the virus. At the beginning of 2021, the fishing fleets in Samut Sakorn province south / southwest of Bangkok were discovered to have Covid outbreaks - originally among the cross-border Burmese crews. This quickly spread to the (mostly) Burmese in the many factories there in the adjacent Industrial Zones. But not all those who were infected were Burmese - several Thais were also infected. It was the Thais themselves that began carrying the virus to other provinces (6 provinces originally).
Additionally, when the dry season reduced the rivers dividing Burma and Thailand to a trickle, the border checkpoints became irrelevant (as happens every year). Many Burmese, several of whom were infected, crossed (just walked) into Central and Northern Thailand. Many of those made their way to Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Thailand's bubble had been thoroughly burst.
Then came the Songkran holidays, where everyone from everywhere went back home to their families everywhere else. The perfect storm. They have already returned from their homes to their original destinations, and the incubation period from the Songkran travels is just now upon us. So we are, not unexpectedly, reaping the bounty.
A lot has been made in the local Press over the various Thai 'Celebrities' that have come down with Covid due to visiting the reopened Night Entertainment Venues (Sois Thonglor, Ekamai), and how they were to blame for the 'cluster' that kicked off the latest spiraling of new cases. But not really - it had been spreading (and incubating) all along, and because they are 'celebrities', it is quite easy to point the finger.
The Bang Bang, (a 'restaurant' perhaps?) open only last month, was locked up top-to-bottom. Although from a distance you wouldn't know it (all lighting, interior and exterior) ablaze...
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
The far end of Soi Ambassador (Soi 11) was even darker than the rest of the Soi - the below pic shows the One For The Road, the Studio, the Smile Jasmine Massage, and the Apoteka (far right).
(Sukhumvit Soi 11)
The small cluster of lean-to restaurants and the 'Tewley group' of bar beers were open, albeit with a few less lights on... It looks like a 'renaming game' is afoot - more on this next issue (if they are still there). File photo below.
Soi Dead Artists (Sukhumvit Soi 33) was lit only by convenience store fronts, the occasional restaurant and an even more occasional passing automobile. Even the 'naughty' Japanese venues were closed down.
The Kawinya Massage, and the next door Good Time Massage & Salon were open - sans lighting. Should you walk past, you would be invited in. Likewise for the mostly-transgender Dalah Massage a little deeper in the Soi. Farther in, the Bangkok Beer Cafe (open as a restaurant?) had all its lights on. All other Venues were in hibernation. File photo below.
A brief sampling of Bangkok Night Entertainment's early years...
This month, Midnite Hour digs deep into the mildewed cardboard boxes in our attic and visits a few Nitespots from two long-disappeared Night Entertainment Areas that were popular through the 1960's and into the 1970's - Gaysorn Road (across the road from the Erawan Hotel), and New Road (Jaroen Krung) at the end of Surawong Road, right and left - towards the G.P.O. and Silom Road. The below clippings are from January 1965.
Vic Luna, one of the many musicians from the Philippines, was perhaps the most popular 'resident' musician of the day, doing gigs at various Nitespots. Likewise, the various touring acts from abroad would perform at different 'nightclubs' while in town.
The Three Sisters "Snack Bar" (one of the cluster of Nitespots in that warren of sois that comprised 'Gaysorn Road') was one of the more popular hostess lounges throughout the '60's
The Miami Bar was typical of those Nitespots found on New Road and adjacent side-sois. No relation to the Miami Massage on "New Petchburi" or the Miami Hotel on Sukhumvit Road.
Domino was more than just a restaurant... - the tip-off - closing at "02.00 a.m." and the "pretty maids". No relation to the later Domino's that opened on Soi 11 Sukhumvit.
Lotte World Mall in Seoul, South Korea held an art exhibition on 2 April this year. One of the pieces on display, a "graffiti" mural by artist JonOne, was damaged by visitors who believed the work was to be 'embellished' by those viewing the piece. (Our personal thoughts on this are - it would be extremely difficult, other than by conflagration, to un-embellish it...)
And who could blame them... Set out in front of the mural were open cans of paint and brushes (see above) - which were intentionally left out for unspecified reasons. As this type of 'participatory' art is not uncommon in the disconnect-world of the "artsy-phartsy", it should not have surprised anyone, including the organizers, and, most specifically, the artist.
The 'embellished' piece was originally produced at another exhibition in front of an audience in 2016, also in Seoul. Since it's completion, it has gone 'on tour' at various locations (replete with open paint cans and brushes). Which gives rise to whether or not this mural can legitimately be called "Graffiti" - as it doesn't even come close to the definition : ("Unauthorized, often illegal markings on others' property.") The piece has been valued at approximately US $500,000 - yes, really... Why, Oh Lord, did my Mother punish me for marking up the walls with my Crayolas™?!
Exhibition staff spotted the 'culprits' while reviewing the CCTV footage, and police were able to locate the "accidental vandals". After all was considered, exhibition organizers have decided not to press charges. Meanwhile, Kang Wook, head of exhibition, has entered into negotiations with the 'artist'.
As a footnote, the incident prompted the gallery to place a small fence in front of the mural, inclusive of signs saying: "Do Not Touch". Too late, idiots, 'the hog is already out of the tunnel'....
Bangkok Eyes adheres to a single, comprehensive definition of Graffiti :
"Unauthorized, often illegal markings on another's property."
Bangkok Eyes does not support or advocate any illegal activity. Content herein showcases the ongoing controversy over Graffiti in our Society and is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only.
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork resides exclusively with the artists.
Bangkok's original site !
The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman.
(Boge's photo, above, is not a graffitiper-se, although there are those who have insinuated....